Thanks for the party

Published 11:52 am Sunday, July 8, 2007

By Staff
To the thousands of people who came to Washington’s waterfront and joined in the city’s Independence Day celebration, thanks for coming.
To the handful of organizers, sponsors and volunteers who helped plan the Fourth of July bash, thanks for your efforts that resulted in a memorial July 4 observance. Without your commitment, dedication and sweat, the event would have been less than memorable.
The celebration didn’t just happen. Weeks, if not months, of preparations preceded the birthday bash for the nation. Someone had to make the arrangements for the boat-decorating contest, watermelon-eating contest, watermelon-seed spitting contest, jalapeno-eating contest and raft race. Someone had to register contest participants. Someone had to judge the contests. Someone had to slice the watermelons. Someone had to determine how far those seeds were spit.
Many of the celebration’s sponsors, volunteers and organizers are among the people who bring events such as Smoke on the Water, the East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and N.C. Decoy Carving Championships and Music in the Streets to downtown Washington. They do it because they realize those events are good for the city. Events — festivals, athletic tournaments, conferences or antique-car enthusiasts gathering to display their vehicles — that bring people to Washington play a role in improving the city.
People who come to these events, especially those events that last for two or more days, spend money with local shopkeepers, at restaurants, at lodging establishments, grocery stores, gas stations and other business ventures. Such events allow people such as Lindsey and Leslie Cahoon of Bath to earn a living. The Cahoons, owners of Carolina Catch, a crab business, operate Carolina Catch Too, from which they sell seafood.
They sold their crabcake sandwiches, shrimpcake sandwiches and softshell crab sandwiches at the Summer Festival and Fourth of July celebration. Festivals and similar events in Washington provide them opportunities to grow their business.
As tourism continues to grow and become even a more important element in the area’s economy, making Washington a place for people to come and enjoy themselves make sense. There’s no doubt organizers of the city’s Fourth of July party did so for patriotic reasons. But there’s no law that says you can’t throw an Independence Day observance for patriotic and economic reasons.
But more than just money, such celebrations provide opportunities for people to come together to socialize with old friends, make new friends and take in sights such as adults eating watermelons without using their hands, children squealing with delight while riding along in homemade rafts and people tapping their feet while listening to gospel music.
The July 4 celebration in the city looks like it will get bigger and better in the coming years. Just remember that it’s the handful of sponsors, organizers and volunteers who will make it bigger and better. There’s no doubt they would welcome more people to help them with next year’s observance.
Thank them and give them a helping hand. It’s the American thing to do.